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“THE DEBTOR CLASS."
ALL popular movements for cheap money or to make money more plentiful are strengthened by a good-natured desire to help along the debtors, and it is commonly supposed that a large proportion of the community belong to this class. Therefore, if it were made clear to the people that debtors, properly so-called, are not comparatively numerous, and also that a process of money-cheapening would not be likely to help them, we should have little cause to fear the enacting of bad financial These would be too unpopular
to obtain the sanction of law.
The greater number of people in this country, as in every country, are wage- or salaryearners, and all of them are creditors, for the simple reason that they are not paid in advance. You give your time and labor
to your employer, and only after the debt to you has accrued for a specified time are you paid off. Your interest lies in receiv ing the more valuable kind of money, where two kinds circulate. If
you have been thrifty and have a credit at the sav ings-bank, this sum too you want payable in the better money; you cannot be benefited by a law which would compel savings. banks to receive depreciated money in settlement of mortgages, and therefore necessarily permit the payment of depreciated money, by savings-banks, to you. If you have no money saved up, but are in the habit of living from hand to mouth, still it cannot help you to receive your wages in inferior money just for the pur. pose of handing over this kind to the butcher and the grocer. Indeed, may not the talk of cheap money lead these men into trying to charge you more for the necessaries of life, even if a financial disturbance should prevent the wholesale butchers and grocers from advancing their prices? If prices should advance because of free coinage, as "silverites" expect, most
assuredly wages will be a long way behind in the upward movement. The crisis in financial affairs would have the effect of injuring the industries of the nation; and at the same moment of time you might possibly witness an attempt to advance the average of prices, particularly retail prices, and an attempt to reduce the average rate of wages. Of course there would come. about an approximate adjustment of the relation between prices and wages, but if prices should go up they would move much faster than wages would move. Prices could go up a little without any accompanying or following advance in wages. Most certainly, therefore, clerks and laborers cannot be classed with those debtors who are supposed to be in need of cheaper money, and if we leave wage- or salaryearners and their families out of account, we are compelled to search among the minority of the population for the future beneficiaries of cheap money.
Of course the greatest borrowers, and therefore the greatest debtors, are the national, state, and municipal governments,
but we need waste no time on them, for nobody wants them to pay debts in silvei and to collect taxes in gold.
And sympathy is not asked for the banking, railway, and industrial corporations which stagger under millions and millions of debt, the managing financiers haying made no sign that relief is sought in cheaper money. On the contrary, these officers dread as their most dangerous foes any disturbers of confidence in the stability of the general financial situation.
Many merchants are chronic borrowers, but the smallest possible percentage of them are insolvent. Nearly all have in merchandise and in credits a sum larger than the total of their debts. There can be no advantage in selling the stock on hand for silver only instead of for good money, nor in collecting the outstanding claims in the inferior metal. Particularly sensitive also are debtor merchants to monetary derangements.
Some farmers and planters, however, have been loud in their demands for unlimited coinage of silver. Possibly it is
thought that the difficulties which from time immemorial have beset the paying of interest on mortgages and the making of both ends to meet, would be lessened if more money were in circulation, and that it would be easy to pay off mortgages if government should supply a plenty of silver. But excepting the proposition to lend directly to needy land-owners, a proposition to be defeated by the vote of every body else, no one has found a channel through which silver can be made to flow from the national treasury into the pockets of the men who most loudly demand it.
Bankruptcy laws are provided for the benefit of insolvent debtors, enabling them to make new starts in life. Free coinage is advocated for the benefit of debtors gener ally, but where is there a solvent debtor who would not insist that he should be classed among creditors or among propertyowners, rather than among debtors? A owns a farm and stock worth $15,000, and mortgaged for $10,000; B has a business, the balance-sheet of which, on one side, shows merchandise on hand worth $15,000,